Motoring Weekly

Unsung heroes

December 2 - 8, 2020

Gulf Weekly Naman Arora
By Naman Arora

Gulf Weekly Unsung heroes

The contribution of motorsport’s all-action volunteers came under the global spotlight in a crash-filled Formula One thriller in Bahrain and preparations are already underway for race number two this weekend.

In timely fashion, the Bahrain International Circuit’s (BIC) became the destination for the official FIA Volunteers Weekend for the first time in F1 history.

Bahrain’s team of more than 1,000 marshals and volunteers are the ‘house elves’ that bring the F1 magic to life, as stewards, scrutineers and race officials.

“Volunteers are the unsung heroes of motor sport. Without them, quite simply, we would not be able to go racing,” said FIA President, Jean Todt.

“It is important for the FIA to recognise their vital contribution, and the occasion of the Volunteers Weekend shine the spotlight on their hard work and dedication to ensuring the safety and success of events the world over.

“This is also an opportunity to promote the positive benefits that volunteers gain from their involvement, and help attract new people to motor sport.”

For most of them, it’s about more than just F1 – it’s about nurturing a passion for motorsport.

Osama Albuflasa, for example, has been volunteering for 16 years and has a deep love for anything with an engine.

“It was love at first speed for me, ever since I got into my first car in Moscow, where I tried karting for the first time!” the 42-year-old told GulfWeekly.

“When I came back to Bahrain, I got involved with racing and volunteering on the island, and that’s when I met Abdulrahman Ghuloom, who has become a godfather for all of us.

“Not only did he help me as a racer, he also encouraged me to volunteer. As a racer, volunteering has helped me gain a unique understanding and perspective on rules and regulations, and why they are necessary.

“Motorsports can get very dangerous and understanding the technical aspects keeps everyone on the track safe.”

For many, volunteering has taken them around the world. Teams of BIC volunteers have been sent to Azerbaijan, India and Abu Dhabi to help in training the local population of enthusiasts.

For Hashem Almarzooqi who volunteers as a risk control chief communicator, assisting at numerous motorsport events in Bahrain and the Gulf throughout the year, believes it is a patriotic endeavour.

“Our main purpose, in my opinion, is to serve our country and help put Bahrain’s best foot forward when it comes to motorsports,” the 33-year-old racer explained.

“When we participate in national or international events, we also get much more exposure to the industry and meet people from around the world. They who have helped me grow.”

Not everyone who volunteers comes from a racing background. Hanan Mohamed Omar, who has been volunteering for 16 years, just loves seeing the passion that Bahrain’s race fans bring to the sport.

And this year, owing to Covid-19, she and other volunteers have missed seeing their faces at the circuit.

“We were all distraught when we first heard in February that the Bahrain F1 race might be scrapped,” she added.

“Every time a race is done, we start counting down the days to the next one. We have become quite a close-knit community throughout the years and especially during Covid-19, this is one of the few times we all gather together. For me, this is like a second family.”

As Bahrain gears up for the second leg of its first-ever double header, the volunteers and marshals are also revving up to once again showcase their professionalism on a global stage.

“Alongside the BMF and all our affiliates, we look forward to further developing our already formidable partnership with the kingdom’s motorsport volunteers as we continue to deliver top-class events that showcase everything Bahrain has to offer to the world,” said BIC Chief Executive Shaikh Salman bin Isa Al Khalifa.

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